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Rodri’s Anfield madness or Walker’s Wembley acrobatics? Man City’s Liverpool heroics compared – Alex Brotherton

Empty net, opposition goalkeeper splayed out on the floor and an expectant Anfield Road End.

Fabinho could smell and taste the headlines. He was going to score the goal to beat Manchester City and settle an instant Premier League classic.

However, a player not often noted for the speed of his movements had other ideas. Enter Rodri – City’s unlikely Anfield hero.

It’s already a moment that has been replayed countless times. How on earth did the Spanish holding midfielder get back to execute the perfect tackle on his opposite number?

It was not the first time a City player has played fast and loose with the laws of physics against Liverpool in recent years, of course.

Here, the City Is Ours team make their cases for the best goalmouth intervention produced by a man in sky blue to frustrate Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Kyle Walker: City 1-1 Liverpool (5-4 pens) – Community Shield, 2019 (Dom Farrell)

Okay, so you might think, “Community Shield – meh, who cares?”- but we’re going to play by Pep Guardiola’s rules here. He absolutely cares and counts it as a trophy.

You and I can quibble over the merits of the traditional season curtain-raiser (absolutely the only acceptable second-reference for this Wembley occasion) but City’s players will be in no doubt over the importance Guardiola attaches to the match.

Kyle Walker, for example, cut short his holidays after the 2018 World Cup to start as City beat Chelsea to lift the shield in 2018 and he was back at the national stadium 12 months later to produce a truly astonishing piece of play.

As is customary in these situations, City’s goalkeeper was on the floor when events started to spiral. Claudio Bravo and John Stones had just flung themselves in the direction of a Mohamed Salah shot. At that stage, Walker was not in the penalty area.



LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Kyle Walker of Manchester City clear ball during the FA Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on August 4, 2019 in London, England.
Kyle Walker produced an incredible clearance to deny Mohamed Salah at Wembley

Salah headed the rebound towards an open goal, with Walker judging the loop and bounce of the attempt to execute a perfectly-timed overhead kick as the ball hung over the goalline.

The number of moving parts that had to be accounted for and the fact Kyle was moving at typically breakneck speed makes it probably the most astonishing feat of athleticism I’ve seen on a football pitch.

John Stones: City 2-1 Liverpool – Premier League, 2019 (Ross Jackson)

Alright, first of all, we’ll push the big elephant in the room out into the open; I know it was his mistake that led to him having to scurry back and hook the ball off the line in the first place.



John Stones somehow hooks the ball clear against Liverpool in January 2019

Moments of sheer brilliance in football matches can often get forgotten about if they ultimately prove to be worthless in the grand scheme of things, yet Stones’ incredible clearance against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in January 2019 set up one of the most thrilling title races in recent memory – and it meant City came out on top, what more do you want from a goalline clearance?

11 millimetres of white paint proved to be the difference between a first successful top-flight title defence and Premier League heartbreak.

Criticise his initial attempt to clear all you like. Any moment of genius that’s preceded by a centre-back cannoning the ball off his own goalkeeper’s forehead from two yards only adds to the brilliance in my book.

All jokes aside, to sprint back and judge the bounce of the ball perfectly before hooking it away is one thing, but to do so with Salah breathing down his neck and somehow managing to ensure the Liverpool man didn’t divert the ball over the line is absolutely superb.

Was it athletically impressive? Yes. Was it the difference between retaining and losing the Premier League crown? Yes. Did he comically boot the ball at his own teammate? Yes.

Seriously, what more do you want?



Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.

Writers and presenters who share your passion for the blue side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.

Follow our team on Twitter (@DomFarrell1986 and @alex_brotherton)!

Rodri: City 2-2 Liverpool – Premier League 2021 (Alex Brotherton)

On first viewing, Rodri’s block on Sunday appears to be the runt of City’s ridiculous-clearances-against-Liverpool litter. Stones’ goalline clearance in 2019 ultimately won City the title, while Walker’s overhead kick in the 2019 Community Shield was the most impressive athletically.

But were either entirely unexpected? Everyone knows how quick Walker is, while Stones had the extra motivation one gets when seeking to save one’s blushes.

Did anyone really expect Rodri – unfairly known as Plodri by some due to his lack of pace – to recover in time? When the ball fell to the feet of Fabinho from Salah’s cross, City’s holding midfielder was a good five yards away – he hadn’t anticipated Ederson charging out and completely missing the ball.



Fabinho looked certain to score a winner for Liverpool…



But Rodri somehow made up the ground

A freeze-frame of the moment Fabinho went to strike the ball shows he had a completely open goal to aim for, but out of nowhere, Rodri lunged in with a courageous block.

Admittedly, at first, I thought it was Ruben Dias, so sure was I that Rodri couldn’t pull off such a feat.

For the sheer shock value, my emotions turning from despair to elation in a millisecond, Rodri’s intervention wins out. Who knows – like Stones in 2019, it could prove to be the difference between winning the title or not.



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